Vettel and Ferrari stunned Mercedes with a marvellous drive – the German’s first win for his new team, and Ferrari’s first win in over two years.
Vettel started in second, but drove smartly and sensibly throughout, holding off Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and forcing them down the podium.
He cruised past the back-markers, and moved past the Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages, demonstrating his dominance.
The elation was clear to see, with the driver exclaiming, “Grazie! Forza Ferrari!” over the radio as he passed the chequered flag.
“It’s been a while – I’m speechless,” said Vettel. “I’m very happy and proud. We beat them fair and square.”
“They were too fast for us today,” admitted Hamilton.
Hamilton was livid after his final pit-stop put him on the slower, hard tyres, rather than the softer compounds he wanted, but his team reassured him that it was the best option of those available.
An early safety car appearance had limited Hamilton’s progress from pole after Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson span off the track and required a crane to lift him out of danger.
Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen took fourth place – an even more impressive achievement after a lap spent on three tyres following a puncture.
Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished fifth and sixth respectively, while Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen took seventh, becoming the youngest-ever man to take points in a Formula One race.
McLaren’s Jenson Button retired with a power problem after 41 laps, and his team-mate Fernando Alonso had withdrawn 20 laps earlier.